Blue Seas Protection, who are currently in a row with the Isle of Wight Council over a boat dumped on Ryde Beach, have been reminded of the legal requirements surrounding charity registration and the importance of being open with the public by the Charities Commission.
It has been confirmed to Island Echo that the Commission have engaged with Blue Seas Protection (BSP) in recent weeks to make clear the legalities about when an organisation must register as a charity.
A small, not-for-profit organisation with income under £5,000 per year does not need to register as a charity, however, if the organisation’s income exceeds £5,000 a small charity constitution is no longer appropriate. An organisation is then legally obliged to register.
It is known that £4,270 was received from WightAID in 2017, with a further £4,000 granted by Tesco Plc in both 2018 and 2019. In July 2018 the organisation was also granted money by ASDA – thought to be £500. It is unknown what other grants or donations were made to Blue Seas Protection during the 3-year period and whether or not they exceeded the £5,000 limit in a single year.
In the past Blue Seas Protection has offered a celebrity the ‘unique opportunity’ to name a vessel after them – a ocean salvage and research vessel that would be ‘actively involved in ocean clean up operations’ in the English Channel. The organisation also called on the Government to fund the vessel to be stationed off the coast of Cornwall.
Blue Seas Protection, of Fort Street in Sandown but who operate out of Ryde Harbour, have been brought into the local spotlight recently after a boat belonging to them appeared on Ryde Sands back in April. Although the Isle of Wight Council have told the owners to shift it, they are refusing to do so. With the summer holidays fast approaching the dead-in-the-water boat still sits on the beach despite being offered a berth in Cowes.
Although it has no working engines and requires a lot of work, ‘James’ has appeared on the internet with a price tag of £185,000 – significantly more than what BSP paid for it. At the same time the organisation is seeking £140,000 in donations to make James operational.
HM Coastguard were called out to the bright orange former rescue vessel recently following reports of children playing around the RHIB, potentially cutting tubing and removing anchors. Investigations were carried out at cost to the public purse. Concerns have been raised about the potential for environmental pollution.
What’s more, the organisation’s other vessel ‘Iron Maiden’ has been put on the market for £90,000. It’s unclear what this means for the intended future of the organisation’s sea-cleaning activities.
A spokesperson for the Charities Commission has told Island Echo:
“We have engaged with the trustees to remind them of the legal requirements around charity registration, and the importance of being open with the public about the organisation’s current status.
“We understand the trustees will be meeting to review the organisation’s status soon”.
The spokesperson confirmed that Blue Seas Protection is not a registered charity and that the Commission are not in receipt of a current application for registration from Blue Seas Protection (correct as of 30th May).
The Isle of Wight Council said last month that it did not believe that Blue Seas Protection was recognised as a constituted charitable trust by the Charities Aid Foundation.
Island Echo approached Blue Seas Protection for a statement earlier this month, but they refused to answer our questions. They did however confirm that following an AGM at the start of June they have addressed their ‘pending registration’ with the Charities Commission and thanked Island Echo for interest in their ‘charity activities’.